LIVESTRONG will be posting regular videos blogs to address cancer related questions asked by our online communities. We will reference our LIVESTRONG Guidebook and www.livestrong.org/get-help in the blogs and encourage you to follow along in these resources for additional tips and advice. Please make sure to post your questions in the comments below, call us 1-855-220-7777 or email us through: our online form. We are here to help you navigate the cancer healthcare system.
Today’s blog is intended to offer tips on how to work together with your healthcare team. Your team can consist of your oncologists, radiologist, surgeon, general practitioner, nurses, social workers and anyone else in charge of providing care to you during and after treatment. If you have a LIVESTRONG Guidebook ? please reference pages 53 – 57 and/or go online at www.livestrong.org/get-help for detailed information.
Step 1: Make sure you find a team with which you feel comfortable
- This is very critical ? you wouldn?t take on a business partner or romantic partner without being comfortable, why would you put your health in the hands of someone with which you aren?t comfortable
- They should communicate in ways that you prefer
- It should just ?feel? right ? if it doesn?t, ask your insurer about other medical teams that you can access
Step 2: Make sure you understand your healthcare providers? policies and procedures and know what to do if:
- You can?t reach your doctor
- You are waiting for test results
- You have questions about medications or side effects
- You need to share protected medical information with another party
Step 3: Prepare for your Appointments
- Use a journal to keep track of your daily experiences
- Write down questions that come up between appointments
- Keep track of new symptoms you experience
- Keep track of what you have tried to relieve the pain and how it worked
- You may have several different healthcare appointments
- Keep an up-to-date list of your medications and bring it with you to all of your appointments
Step 4: Use Effective Communication with your Healthcare Team
- Always bring up concerns that you have
- Don?t assume that uncomfortable symptoms are normal and unavoidable ? your doctor can?t do anything about symptoms he/she doesn?t know you?re experiencing
- Call your doctor right away if you experience pain or fever!
- Use words to describe pain ? such as burning, aching, or sharp.
- Bring a note-taker with you to appointments
- You can also ask your healthcare team (nurse, social worker, etc) to write these down for you
- Many doctors now allow their patients to tape record their discussions ? make sure you ask, though
Step 5: Contact LIVESTRONG
- Call us at 1-855-220-7777 or go online to request information about our services, get connected to local resources and to speak with a professional cancer navigator.
What other suggestions can you offer? Which of these tips have you used?